It was an evening of poetry and heartfelt prose in memory of Clovis Maksoud as his family, friends, colleagues and admirers gathered in the presence of diplomats, scholars, representatives of international organizations, to celebrate his memory at AUB’s Assembly Hall.
Clovis Maksoud, the renowned Arab intellectual, diplomat, journalist, and professor of International Relations left behind a worldwide legacy when he died in May 15, 2016.
Born in 1926, Maksoud studied Political Science and Economics at AUB, which was widely viewed as the hub of liberal Arab ideas at the time. He graduated in 1948, influenced by the forward-thinking intellect and pan-Arab ideals of Professor Constantine Zuraik. He then went on to receive his doctor of law degree from George Washington University and his post-graduate degree after that at Oxford University.
“Clovis’ tremendous legacy will outlive not only himself and many of us but will also stand as a lasting effect to a thoughtful and peaceful intellectual who always brought principled dialogue and the understanding of the Other to every discussion,” said President Fadlo R. Khuri.
Nine friends of Dr. Maksoud spoke at the memorial about their first-hand experience with the passionate and nationalist intellectual who until his 90th year gathered scholars and policy-makers to discuss the concerns of the Arab world. Dr. Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and AUB trustee, was at one of the gatherings that Dr. Maksoud held in his treatment home towards his final days.
“Leaning on a walking stick, Clovis continued to have the heart of that passionate youth who protested against Israeli occupation in Choueifat School; the determination of the professor who defended the Palestinian resistance in front of the world; and the wit of the diplomat who joined the Arabs with counterparts also calling for freedom and justice in the five continents,” said Dr. Khalaf.
In his message, Former Prime Minister of the Yemen Arab Republic Mohsin Al-Aini shared anecdotes that reflected Dr. Maksoud’s passion and art of dialogue. He spoke of him as the Arab professor who appeared on US televisions to tell the Americans about the Palestinian cause; the vocal diplomat who helped and established strong relations with presidents such as Jamal Abdul Nasser, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Josip Broz Tito; and the proactive intellectual who worked with heads of international organizations and moved them to prioritize the “human” over the “economic” aspect of development.
Reminder of the Nakba
“Today, more than ever before, we need the likes of Clovis Maksoud, principled in his opposition to divisions in Lebanon, Palestine, or the Arab world,” said Minister Akram Chehayeb, representing Member of Parliament and former Minister Walid Joumblatt. “We need the likes of this person we commemorate today, with his integrity; art of dialogue; democracy; inclusiveness; humanity; rationality; and refusal of violence, terrorism, and oppression. He believed, like we do, that any victory of arms over the voice of freedom is a temporary victory; for the voice of freedom will always come back, stronger than ever before.”
Writer and Professor of Political Science, Dr. Bayan Nuwayhed, spoke about Dr. Maksoud’s passion to construct a democratic, secular Arab nation and reminded the audience of the impact of Dr. Maksoud’s wife, Dr. Hala Salaam Maksoud, on the Arab-American community and her role as one of the most influential leaders in the history of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Professor of Economics and President of Econometric Research Limited, Dr. Atef Kubursi, referred to Maksoud as “[our] beloved” who defied presumptions and, with his contribution to Arab nationalism, turned what was known to be a western name “Clovis” into a genuine Arabic name. “Our beloved remains alive in every national position and every stand of pride and love. He is alive within us, if we remain loyal to the causes that he was loyal to.”
Brother of Dr. Hala Maksoud, Dr. Oussama Salam, spoke about the national, regional, and global circumstances that Maksoud worked through and the work that still remains to be completed. He said that Maksoud’s passing away on May 15, the day that marked Al Nakba, the Palestinian displacement in 1948 that he strongly fought against, is like his reminder and will for the continuity of the struggle for the Palestinian cause. AUB alumnus and pediatrician, Dr. George Salem, spoke of his relative Maksoud’s principles, vision, and strong call for an Arab socialism and a united and strong Lebanon and region. “Maksoud never gave up… He knew very well that the causes of the peoples cannot be covered within a political summit or annulled through a diplomatic one; he knew it was a journey of hard word, persistence, and struggle. And he worked hard, persisted, and struggled.”
“We have lost a great man, a loyal son of this nation” said Talal Salman, Editor-in-Chief of As-Safir newspaper. “Clovis was long designated to be the voice of the nation and he continues to represent Arab nationalism today. Clovis Maksoud, may your soul rest in peace.”